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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I am pretty new and was wanting to get a road bike; but I have been looking more and more and have noticed the cyclocross bikes. From what I have read, the cyclocross bikes have a heavier frame and bigger tires than a road bike. I like the drop bars of the road bike/x-bikes. How does a cyclocross bike compare to a MTB? Can you use it on MTB trails? I am not talking about extreme mountain bike trails with giant jumps that make frames buckle but small dirt trails with some ruts, roots, maybe a small jump (foot or two). In the southern rural US there are not a lot of paved bike trails, but there are usually some dirt bike trails. I am mainly a jogger/runner know, but want to get into dualthons/triathlons. I would only compete in short sprint levels. What I am thinking is that it would be best to get a cyclocross bike and a set of road tires for when I do long road rides. I could change back to the tires with tread when I was riding trails or commuting around on rough sidewalks. It would seem better than buying a MTB and a road bike, but am I misguided? Is there a lot differences between the bikes? I was reading that cyclocross brakes are weaker unless they are disk brakes. Is there a big difference? I don't care a lot about weight because I could stand to loose some at 196lbs, 5' 10". Also any bike suggestions? .
Thanks,
Chris
 

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a cross bike will handle dirt trails, double track very well. Technical MTB trails will take a bit more skill on the rider's part, but i've seen it done.

I wouldn't claim that a CX bike is a heavier frame then a road bike. Both are built to withstand some impressive impacts.

too many people buy a mountain bike with the absurd notion that they will ride trails and yet never do. A road or CX bike is far more enjoyable on paved surfaces. I'd grab one of those first and if you want to do some real trail ridding, buy a hard tail.

I took an old CX bike of mine, put some slicks on it and gave it to my dad. Doubt he's ever ridden it off road but it works great for him on the road.
 

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moparjohnson said:
How does a cyclocross bike compare to a MTB? Can you use it on MTB trails? I am not talking about extreme mountain bike trails with giant jumps that make frames buckle but small dirt trails with some ruts, roots, maybe a small jump (foot or two). In the southern rural US there are not a lot of paved bike trails, but there are usually some dirt bike trails. I am mainly a jogger/runner know, but want to get into dualthons/triathlons. I would only compete in short sprint levels. What I am thinking is that it would be best to get a cyclocross bike and a set of road tires for when I do long road rides. It would seem better than buying a MTB and a road bike, but am I misguided?

Is there a lot differences between the bikes? I was reading that cyclocross brakes are weaker unless they are disk brakes. Is there a big difference? I don't care a lot about weight because I could stand to loose some at 196lbs, 5' 10". Also any bike suggestions? .
Thanks,
Chris
If you want to have only one bike to do it all, yes, get the CX bike with 2 sets of wheels.

It sounds like you are new to cycling, correct? It seems as if you are unsure of what type of riding you will be focusing on.

A CX bike is no replacement for a MTB, but I have tried my CX bikes on several MTB trails, and it is doable, and also very fun. But, it takes more skill, and the ride is much rougher. CX bikes are not good for 1-2' jumps. It's been done, but i would not suggest it.

With the correct gearing, a CX bike is very capable on the road.

In general, the cantilever brakes found on CX bikes are inferior to the disc brakes found on most mountain bikes, but as you may have noticed, you can get a CX bike with disc brakes as well.

You need to decide where your true passion lies. If it is on the trails, you will likely want a mountain bike. But, if you just start with a CX bike, it will allow you to sample all kinds of riding, as you take the time to decide. A CX bike may be all you want. Or, in a few years, you may find yourself with a road bike, CX bike, and a MTB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have been looking more and it seems that some of the cross bikes are geared in the "middle" They don't have a real small front ring or very large front ring compared to a triple or compact crank on a road bike. Is there a real big difference when riding on the road with a 46, 48, 50, or a 52? I have been running some numbers, but in reality I am not a powerful machine. With too large of a ring, I would probably be like a Chevy Luv. Really how high and low does a person need?
 

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moparjohnson said:
I have been looking more and it seems that some of the cross bikes are geared in the "middle" They don't have a real small front ring or very large front ring compared to a triple or compact crank on a road bike. Is there a real big difference when riding on the road with a 46, 48, 50, or a 52? I have been running some numbers, but in reality I am not a powerful machine. With too large of a ring, I would probably be like a Chevy Luv. Really how high and low does a person need?
I had a bike with road tires and a 42 big ring, and I would spin out on most down slopes.

My current bike has a 48, and it is better. If you plan to spend a lot of time riding on the road, you might find 46 to be a little small, depending on how fast you want to go.

Chainrings can be changed though, so try not to let that factor into your bike purchase decision too much. My bike came with a 38/48, and a 12-25 cassette. I wanted an easier climbing gear, so the shop swapped to a 36 small ring, and a 12-26 cassette before the bike left the floor, at no extra charge.

I might consider a cassette with an 11 tooth rear cog in the future, for just a slightly higher gear.
 

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moparjohnson said:
I have been looking more and it seems that some of the cross bikes are geared in the "middle" They don't have a real small front ring or very large front ring compared to a triple or compact crank on a road bike. Is there a real big difference when riding on the road with a 46, 48, 50, or a 52? I have been running some numbers, but in reality I am not a powerful machine. With too large of a ring, I would probably be like a Chevy Luv. Really how high and low does a person need?
I think more and more CX bikes are available with compact cranks. When I first got my CX bike I would have been better off with a compact instead of the 48-39, since I was used to a triple. I finally ended up changing the crank out last year for a compact, because I wanted 172.5 cranks instead of the stock 170mm. At this point, I probably didn't need the 46-34 gearing, but I wanted to try it and am happy with it. My bike currenly doubles as a commuter and weighs a ton. Come CX season, I'll probably end up using a 42t single ring up front.

My CX bike also has disc brakes, but I am looking to eventually get a non disc frame. Discs have great stopping power, but can be a PITA when changing wheels (rotor/caliper alignment, rear hub spacing is different than a road bike). They also add a significant amount of weight. Unless you're riding a lot of off road in muddy conditions, I would say stick to the non-disc brakes.

If you're not going to be racing MTB or continually riding over trails with lots of 1-2ft drop offs, go with the CX bike (particularly since you want to do mult-sport races and I would not recommend using a MTB, though it can be done).

My current bike is this. If I had it to do over again I would have bought one like this. (although I've got my eye on a break away frame) You also might consider either a Redline or Surly. I would search the threads for more recommendations.
 

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gburkhol said:
I think more and more CX bikes are available with compact cranks.
When I was shopping for my CX bike, all of the bikes I was considering (with the exception of the Kona Jake - which had a tripple) had a compact.

If you plan to ride a lot of MTB trails, you may want a lower gear than what most cross bikes come with out of the box.

Of course, gearing can be very personal.
 

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moparjohnson said:
Looks like I should just get a bike and see what works for me. After that I guess I can change ring gears.
I suggest asking the guys at the shop what would work well in the areas where you plan to do your riding. If you can make an educated guess before the bike leaves the floor, many shops will give you the value of the unused parts, so for example; changing from a 12-25 cassette to a 11-27 cassette would not cost you any money, as long as it is of equivalent value.
 

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Regarding gearing, mine came with an 8-speed 34/48 with a 12-25 in the rear. I was able to easily salvage parts from an old MTB and made the rear a 12-28 with the help of a MTB rear der. You won't have anything to salvage but you can get both parts fairly cheaply if you don't mind lower end stuff.

From a speed perspective, I find my cx bike closer to a road bike. With 23mm slicks its just about as fast as my road machine. It's a few lbs heavier but many $'s cheaper so not fair comparison. The riding position is more upright to handle the trails better so it's somewhat less aero. On the trails, except on the smoothest portions, it's noticeably slower than my full suspension MTB or my old hard tail. The ride is rough and you will get pinch flats if you really start to push it. Still, in many ways it's more fun because of the increased difficulty and ability to ride on the road effectively. Just don't expect to keep up with the local MTB hammerfest ride.
 

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goldsbar said:
Just don't expect to keep up with the local MTB hammerfest ride.
Funny you mention that, but last fall, a lot of the guys i was hammering with on Thursday night MTB rides came out on their cross bikes - I was on my MTB. They did surprisingly well, though some flats did occur. the rooty sections did slow them up, but for the most part, i was very impressed.

I think the one ride, out of about 6 guys, 4 were on CX bikes, riding the same trails we MTB'd on all summer long. They were not cross newbies though.
 
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